JCJ has had the pleasure of participating in San Diego’s local Tables for Tots annual design competition since its first year. JCJ employees Sara Miller, Kaylee Miner, Allison Louret, and Ryan Labrum got together with new San Diego co-worker Sarah Giardini to discuss the fundraiser, the process behind our submission, and its impact on the community. The JCJ Table for Tots team is made up of a handful of San Diego office employees and takes about 2 to 3 months of preparation and coordination. This year the theme was America, so JCJ was challenged to design their table and two chairs to represent a road trip across the country. With a set of remote operated cars, the road passes many of America’s iconic buildings including the Empire State Building, the White House, Seattle Space Needle, Lincoln Memorial and Flatiron Building. Each Architectural and Design Firm's designs will be auctioned in August and all proceeds will be given directly to the Ronald McDonald House of San Diego.

How did JCJ originally get involved in Tables for Tots?

Kaylee –We were originally approached by G/M Business Interiors. It had to be about 8 years ago?! Wow! That's a long time ago. We've done it every single year since. The event has grown to be big! It was on the news last year.

How does participation in Tables for Tots reflect the JCJ culture?

Sara Miller – [It’s] Giving back to the community through design focused teamwork.

Ryan Labrum – When it comes to deadlines …By all means, get it done!

It appears that there is an element of collaboration between us and those that worked on the table with us. Tell me more about that.

Kaylee – This is the first year we’ve had consultants. Other years we had Swinerton but that’s it.

Sara – This is the first year we pulled a vendor in, too.

Allison – [Pulling in the vendor and consultant] expanded the design capabilities.

Sara – [Having a larger team] increased JCJ’s ability to donate time and resources.

How do we select the table themes each year?

Ryan – We have a typical design charrette. We throw ideas out and see what sticks.

Kaylee - Tables for Tots gives a general idea or theme, too.

Ryan – [Kids] could continue to build around it….continue to add their Legos to the table… we picked iconic buildings for our table.

What has been the most personally impactful part of participating in this charity event?

Sara – What I found most personally rewarding was, when we had the option, was watching how the kids interacted and played with [our table] and were creative with it. It was seeing our vision become a reality.

Kaylee –The most impactful thing for me was when they had a lot of architecture firms tour the Ronald McDonald house, and showed what they do for each parent. That one tour was our fuel for participation. How much they provide for those parents so they can be there for their kids is just beautiful. One of the other moving moments was having our second table purchased by a parent at the Ronald McDonald house to stay at the Ronald McDonald house so the siblings of sick kids could play with it while their family was staying there.

Allison – The Ronald McDonald tour hit home because we saw families actually going into the apartments; sad but for a good cause. Seeing that made it a reality.

Kaylee – There was also a JCJ employee whose first son was in the children's hospital and they stayed on the premise while their son was sick. Back to Sara's point, it's rewarding when your table is the table all the kids are climbing over each other to play with..

Allison – …and the parents wait to outbid each other …

Ryan – Oh, the competitive spirit of charity events!

What made this year’s submission unique compared to past JCJ submissions?

Allison – Utilizing consultants that were able to do a lot of custom fabrication. We were able to do something more complicated and totally unique yet also simple.

Ryan – It was nice to have everyone participate. Nice for team building.

Kaylee - My favorite table was the vanity one we submitted a few years ago. It was really girly and we got to do a lot of crafty things like tufted panels.

Allison – And my dad worked on that table…haha!

Kaylee - Ryan, this was your first year. Would you do it again?

Ryan – I would absolutely do it again.

To learn more about Tables for Tots and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego visit www.tablesfortots.com

Article by Sarah Giardini